Hawaii law enforcement warns of drunk driving over July 4th weekend

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Police statewide are anticipating people to celebrate big this Fourth of July weekend with fewer restrictions in place and more businesses open.

“When we have holidays like this, which are big drinking holidays, you know, we don’t want to discourage people from celebrating, we want to discourage people from making bad decisions,” said Lt. William Hankins, Maui police traffic commander.

Decisions like the one that brought Lt. Hank to the door of Hannah Brown’s family in 2019.

“At about 4 a.m., Sunday morning June 23, 2019, we got a very loud knock on our door,” explained Charlene Brown, mother of Hannah Brown. Hannah was just 19 years old when she was killed by a drunk driver.

“He [Lt. Hankins] came to break the news to us that our daughter was involved in a head-on collision and unfortunately, she had died at the scene, and it was caused by a drunk driver who was driving on the opposite side of the highway straight into them,” she continued.

Her daughter was gone forever.

“She’s a beautiful soul and she deserved a lot more in life,” Charlene said. “But she gave us 19 years of being the best daughter I could have ever asked for, she was my best friend.”

“This is the 100 deadliest days of the year, it starts with Memorial Day, and it ends Labor Day, they call it the 100 deadliest days of summer,” said Lt. Hankins.

He said DUI’s in Maui County are up 7% compared to 2020.

“We know we’re already going to have more of the arrest than we had last year, which is unfortunate,” he added.

Some believe more needs to be done to prevent intoxicated people from getting behind the wheel.

“People call it accidents, and they’re not accidents,” explained Lt. James Slayter, Honolulu Police traffic division. “These are collisions, it’s avoidable, and that’s why it’s not an accident.”

“If my officer pulls you over for impaired driving, that’s probably one of the best things that could have happened to you. Because one, it’s going to give you a lifestyle change, because you’re going to try and turn your life around. But the fact is, you’re still alive, and you didn’t kill anybody,” Lt. Slayter continued.

Oahu’s DUI numbers are trending upwards, from January 1 to June 30, 2021, there have been almost 1,500 DUI’s on Oahu, compared to nearly 1,200 this time in 2020 when bars were closed. The numbers are down from the 1,900 DUI’s in the first six months of 2019.

“I still hold a lot of anger, frustration, a lot of why’s? ‘Why our daughter? Why did this have to happen to her? And why didn’t the driver be more responsible for one, not drinking and driving, and two, stay where she needed to be and none of this would have happened,'” Charlene continued.

Police advise people to figure out how they are going to get home before they plan on celebrating and drinking, assign a designated driver, look up bus routes, consider Uber or Lyft, a taxi, or text and call mom, dad, or any loved one if someone needs help getting home safely.

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